“[9/11] changed a lot of things [about international travel]. We weren’t sure, immigration wise, if [the U.S. was] going to shut the doors,” she said. “At that point, I wasn’t really ready to go home, but I wasn’t exactly moving over here yet, so I thought I’d stay and see where it took me.”
McGowan said she eventually met her husband in Florida, where he worked as a builder. After Hurricane Ike hit the Greater Houston area in September 2008, his job brought them to Magnolia in early 2009, she said, where she discovered the farmers market on Tamina.
She said she began selling shepherd’s pie, steak and kidney pie, steak and ale pie, and sausage rolls—all traditional British dishes—at the farmers market in summer 2017 as a way to make extra income.
“These are things that there’s no real American equivalent to,” McGowan said. “We eat a lot of meat and potatoes in our culture, because that’s kind of just what was available to eat.”After spending a few months at the farmers market, McGowan said she opened The British Depot in September 2017 at its current Tamina Road location in Magnolia.
“When we moved in, we started with just a fridge and a table. That was all we had,” McGowan said. “As we made money, we put money back in, and we started to bring in more shelves, more coolers, more items.”
The British Depot offers an array of food imported from the U.K., such as British chocolates, bacon, black pudding, flavored crisps—the British term for chips—and other snack items as well as McGowan’s homemade frozen pies and pasties.
In the last two years in Magnolia, McGowan said she has most loved the community she and other store employees have built with customers over time.
“My mom is a really good cook and over the years, I just learned how to make the foods I was missing [from home],” she said. “Now I can offer that to our customers, which means people aren’t just coming in to buy food. They stop by to say hello or for a cup of tea—it’s really quite a community.”
The British Depot
32907 Tamina Road, Magnolia
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Fri. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. noon-4 p.m.